The fifteen-year-old from Mauriceville, Texas, Heaven Cox, vanished from her home on November 25, 2017. Family members believed that she was lured by an “internet predator” she met on the social media app, Snapchat. They thought he was a “much older” man living in the San Antonio area. Shortly after her disappearance, her mother, Tammy Jane Cox, posted on Facebook,
I am asking everyone to share this to their wall, and particularly those who live in California and every state between there and Texas. This man told her that he would be in San Antonio for Thanksgiving and that he would pick her up.
Five days later, on November 30, Heaven was found in Louisiana, and was reunited with her family on December 1.
On February 3, nearly two months to the day of being reunited with her family, Heaven’s mother posted on Facebook that she had died.
Within a few days of her passing, her high school organized a memorial service. Her mother posted,
During the five days that Heaven was missing, her mother posted regular updates on Facebook. In November, she revealed that Heaven suffered from a “mental illness and is currently in a manic phase due to being off her medication.”
All of the news reports covering her ordeal mention the existence of a Snapchat predator. But authorities have never confirmed if a Snapchat predator was ever involved with Heaven’s disappearance.
Heaven Cox was found in a home of a relative of someone she knew in Louisiana. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office stated that it appeared that Cox ran away on her own. No one has been arrested who used Snapchat who was in contact with Heaven.
The tragic death of this teenager could have everything to do with being bipolar and nothing to do with being lured by anyone. However, Amnesty International warned in 2016 that Snapchat and Skype were not doing enough to protect young people’s human rights.
Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of Amnesty’s technology and human rights team, said in a statement,
Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk.
Amnesty International produced a report to rank social media apps and the safety they provide to their users. Based on a scale of one to 100, its methodology factored in how the apps “recognize potential threats to their users, apply end-to-end encryption, inform users of their rights and of security measures in place, and share details of government requests for user data.”
Amnesty specifically called out Snapchat in the report for not adequately informing its 100 million daily users about its encryption levels. When CBS News contacted Snapchat about Amnesty’s report, Snapchat declined comment.
If Snapchat was used to lure Heaven Cox, then Amnesty’s report is telling. If the social media giant had provided greater security measures, could Heaven’s disappearance been prevented?